Shai Bazak
Shai Bazak
Photo: Foreign Ministry
Blue & White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli elections should be more than about war and peace

Opinion: The lines between left and right on security and diplomacy have long since blurred, and the voters must think about issues such as the cost of living, healthcare and civilian life when they cast their ballot on March 2

Shai Bazak |
Published: 02.17.20 , 23:28
Sometimes, by virtue of tradition, inertia, self-interest or just because, old practices stick even when the reasoning behind them has long since been lost to time.
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  • The political dispute in Israel between the right and the left has for years been centered around major issues: war and peace, independence and borders, settlement and withdrawal.
    ביבי וגנץ בפגישת מו"מ בקריהביבי וגנץ בפגישת מו"מ בקריה
    Blue & White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Elad Malka)
    Israeli citizens tend to vote in elections mainly on how they stand on the issues of security and diplomacy.
    But the once deep divisions between the major parties on these issues have been blurred in recent years.
    Palestinian intransigence, the Iranian threat, Hezbollah and the danger posed by terrorist organizations have created a fairly uniform front on most political and security issues, to varying degrees.
    On the Palestinian issue, there is agreement among the majority of the Israeli public, even if it sometimes comes with conditions, for a solution based on the new Trump peace plan - if it ever has any real chance of being implemented.
    On the right, Likud agrees under certain conditions to a Palestinian state, while Avigdor Lieberman's proposal for land swaps made it into the American plan. One-third of Blue & White voters even agree to annexation in the West Bank.
    An Israeli man votes in the Sept. 2019 elections An Israeli man votes in the Sept. 2019 elections
    An Israeli man votes in the Sept. 2019 elections
    (Photo: AFP)
    And on the left, Labor-Gesher-Meretz has opposed both the United Nations decision to boycott companies in Judea and Samaria as well as Defense Minister Naftali Bennett's decision to hand money over to Hamas and work to reach a deal with the terror group.
    And while other countries have moved beyond their tired customs, the animosity between the Israeli left and right has stuck with us – through tradition, personalities or because of political interests and campaigns.
    Contrary to what we are told, the state will not fall apart whichever political strain is victorious on March 2.
    For while certain politicians may benefit from such scaremongering, the state certainly doesn’t.
    The time has come for the voters to shake off their old patterns, and cast a ballot that is reflective of reality: a civilian agenda in which everyone has the freedom to live in dignity where they want and according to their beliefs; an effective healthcare system; proper allocation of budgets; a reasonable cost of living; realistic policies on education, immigration and Jewish conversion; decent treatment of the elderly and so on.
    We should be asking ourselves how the array of parties propose to deal with all of these issues, and what skills and experience do their candidates have to implement these policies. For these issues matter too.
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